Author’s Note: I wrote this after rewatching “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” because the same thought occurred to me that occurs to John in this story. Only, y’know, without the romantic undertones. 😉
But on the other hand, she’s all they have
She is a diamond in their dull gray lives
And that’s the hardest kind of stone
It usually survives
But there’s a lighthouse in a harbor
Pouring its light out across the water
For this sinking soul to see
That someone out there still believes in me
–When You Come Back to Me Again
The day John Sheppard arrived in Colorado Springs after accepting the assignment to the Atlantis mission, he went to Blockbuster and rented Disney’s Atlantis: the Lost Empire. Not because he really expected to learn anything from it–except maybe what sort of people would mount an expedition to find Atlantis, and what was likely to happen to them–but mostly because it just seemed wrong, somehow, to go to Atlantis without knowing something about the legend other than the name.
It wasn’t exactly great art, but he hadn’t really been expecting great art, so that didn’t stop him from enjoying it. He got a kick out of the main character–Milo what’s-his-face–especially having had a few conversations with Dr. Jackson. And while he’d never admit it to anyone but himself, a small part of the reason why he’d trusted Teyla so quickly was because she reminded him of the princess, Kida. And hey, who wouldn’t want to have an Atlantean princess on their team?
But most of what he’d gotten from the movie would soon be swept away by the reality of Atlantis: the beauty beyond anything Earth ever had to offer and the day to day struggle to keep themselves and the city alive in a hostile galaxy. On the odd occasion that he he did think about it, he was surprised by what lingered most vividly in his memory–the Heart of Atlantis, the jewel-like power source that kept the fictional city alive and protected.
At first he thought it was because they lacked that type of power source. On every mission, always lurking at the back of his mind was the need to find a ZPM–preferably more than one. Then he noticed that it wasn’t on missions that he tended to think about the thing. Rather, the bright jewel was more likely to pop into his mind when he was on Atlantis: in the Gate room or in a briefing, watching Elizabeth or even moreso…watching the way people responded to Elizabeth.
Zelenka had a crush on her, that much was obvious. Grodin too, and McKay…well, McKay treated her with respect which said a lot about how he felt, considering it was more than he gave anyone else. Sometimes John thought the entire male population of Atlantis was smitten with her, himself included. With the possible exception of Kavanaugh, who wasn’t smitten with anyone except himself.
As for the women, well, it wasn’t him Teyla rushed to defend when he and Elizabeth had that little falling out over the quarantine. There was a healthy heaping of respect and admiration for Dr. Weir in the female quarter too.
She wasn’t perfect–if anyone should knew that, he did. If his flaw was rushing in where angels fear to tread, Elizabeth by contrast could sometimes be too cautious. He might shoot first and ask questions later, but sometimes he thought her aversion to violence was going to be her downfall; he dreaded the day she would realize there was no other option too late to avert disaster.
But if there was one thing she did, and did right–one thing that he’d never been good at and would always be a little in awe of–it was making every single member of the expedition feel important. She knew each and every one of them by name; she had more faith in them and their capabilities than they had in themselves; she took every death personally and she took personal responsibility for every life. Sacrificing one–any one–for the good of the many was unacceptable to her, and that was why she fought the inevitable until the last second even if it meant her own destruction. It drove him crazy but it also daily cemented his commitment to her, and he knew pretty much everyone else in the city felt the same.
There was a song, once, in a movie an old girlfriend dragged him too against his will years ago, that had a line that went, “she is a diamond.” That was how he saw Elizabeth Weir. She was the toughest jewel he’d ever known, and though he could sometimes see in her eyes the doubts she always tried to hide, he had nothing but admiration for how every pound of pressure just seemed to make her shine brighter. Sometimes–on the rare occasion that he was home to watch her fight for her city and her people, and not one of the ones on the other side of the Gate that she was fighting for–he could swear he’d even seen her glow with an inner light so bright it was almost blinding.
And when he did, it made him smile. Because he might still be searching the galaxy for a power source, but he’d already found the Heart of Atlantis.